Annual line-up changes keep the Bay Area’s most high-vis repertory ensemble fresh, and the fact that they pepper their tributes with wily and gorgeous original pieces clears out any dustballs. But what’s always killed me is the chemistry they bring to their live shows. The charts are ultra tight, and whether its Stevie Wonder, Horace Silver, or Wayne Shorter they’re saluting, the spirit is obvious. Bet they have a blast with Chick.
Variety is the word for the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Orchestra’s investigation into Bill Evans’ heady world. This weekend the large ensemble will reimagine some of the pianist’s key pieces, with Bill Charlap demonstrating his formidible skills at delicacy in a number of settings, including duets, trios and quartets. In a January chat with me, Charlap said that the Evans Trio with Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro was one of his key influences, and he has told other interviewers that he’s fond of an Evans quote: “I like music that contributes to a better world.” Charlap: “All of art can improve life. To me, art is the most important thing in the world, besides love and family. Art helps us reflect on who we are, and it deepens our worship. Art helps us learn from each other.” Fans will recall the glow of “Goodbye Mr. Evans,” the track that closed Charlap’s Souvenir.
Perhaps the real event of the program are the duets scheduled between Charlap and Jim Hall. It was Undercurrent and Intermodulation, the sage guitarist’s 1960s pairings with Evans that helped woo me towards jazz, and such gems as “Romain,” “All Across the City” and “I Hear a Rhapsody” never leave my mind for long. Hall needs to be heard whenever possible, and Charlap’s a wise choice as a partner for this exchange. They’ll also play together in a quartet with bassist Sean Smith and drummer Bill Stewart.
Friday & Saturday, May 4 -15. Get the information.
Chick Corea has Bill Evans fever, too. He’s ending his two-week stand at the Blue Note this Sunday night. Ben Ratliff says it’s a valuable venture. Chick explains his project to DownBeat.